But it wasn’t that that stopped me in my tracks. It was what happened after Daniel was pulled out of the den of lions. At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones (Daniel 6:24).
I have a very hard time reading about children being killed in the Bible. I don’t like to see it anywhere, mind you, but in the Bible it’s for a purpose. It’s found throughout the Old Testament. I’ve had conversations with my husband about this many times before, how children are innocent, and why should they be killed? What did they do? To which he always replies that they would grow up and become like their parents, and possibly even worse. When they become a certain age they may set out to basically seek revenge.
Fine, whatever, I get it. I still hate it. I have a huge heart for children, and I don’t like to see any of them hurt, regardless of what stage they’re at in life.
As I said before, I opened up my journal and started writing. Scribbling may be the correct term for it as I was writing furiously. What came out of my pen was that children can be harmed by our choices. Here’s a quick look into my journal (a small portion of what I wrote):
Your choices affect your children. They can harm them. Be aware of
your words and your actions. Little ones are watching. Make the right
choices. For their sake shed pride and look for the Truth.
It doesn’t matter what side of an issue you are on. What you say and do will affect your children. My two oldest are in middle school, and they would come home complaining about how there was another huge debate between students in their classroom about our newest president. As 7th and 8th graders, how much do they truly understand? They know what they’ve been told by the adults in their lives, and how they go about this debate is based upon how they were taught at home. Social media is a filled with attacks against the opposite side. “If you’re not with me, you’re against me.” That seems to be the mentality that people take. “You are wrong, I’m right.” And yet, there are so many bumper stickers out there that say: TOLERANCE.
Here’s what “tolerance” means: Recognition of and respect for the opinions, practices, or behavior of others (Webster’s II New College Dictionary…yes, I still have one of those). It does not end with, “as long as they are the same as yours.”
Now, since I had my dictionary open, I looked at all the words for tolerate and came across “toleration.” I didn’t even know that was a word. The first definition, number 1, was Tolerance. Of course I read all the definitions, so number 2 caught my attention. It says, “Official recognition of the rights of persons and groups to hold dissenting views, esp. with regard to religion.” Being an English major, I grabbed my lesson from my Literary Criticism class and looked up Dissension. The definition says, “A difference in opinion, esp. one that leads to argument or strife.” Check and check. Looking one more word down to Dissent (where dissenting is mentioned), “To differ in opinion or feeling: DISAGREE.”
So tolerance shows that we are able to disagree, but that we should still respect those who do disagree with us. Interesting. That reminds me of a verse from the Bible. Jesus replied, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-39). So as Christians, we need to first and foremost love God with all our being. This includes doing all He has instructed in His Book, and all that He has told us through prayer and through other Christians. With that in mind, we need to then make sure to treat others the way that we want to be treated. I’m sure those hurling insults at other people because of their beliefs would hate it if they were mocked for theirs.
Is every belief right? No. Basically, if it goes against the Word of God, then how can it be right? But as Christians we are taught to “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” That means that we don’t have to “tolerate” what the person does and believes, but we need to love them because they are a creation of God, and God has called us to do just that. This passage was spoken by Jesus Christ Himself. How, then, can we not get it? It comes straight from the source, and therefore there should be no need to question it. Is it easy? Nope. But then, as I’ve written in my journal recently, “God’s way is not easy.” And I know I’m not the first (nor the last) to say this. It may not be easy, but it’s right.
So what does this mean, and what does this have to do with children?
Regardless of whether you have your own children or not, those younger than you are looking to you as an example. What are you going to teach them? What are you going to show them by your words and actions, even if it’s not directed toward them?
Those in the Bible, who lost their lives right along with their entire family, were not good examples of how to be. They did not please God. They sought to please only themselves.
When I see on the news that a person has been arrested for a terrible crime (any crime really, but especially those that are pure evil), all I can think about (after the “shock, horror”) is that that person was once someone’s baby. They were born into the world the same way everyone else was. A helpless baby who had to be fed and changed; they had to learn how to walk and talk. Maybe I’m just strange, but that’s what I do. I think about what happened. Where did it go wrong? They may have been raised by a loving family and then somewhere just lost their way. It’s possible, but I would say that the majority of people who do these crimes did not have the “happy-go-lucky life.” Or, the people who raised them taught them to hate instead of to love.
They may have been loved by their families, but how an adult responds to a situation can have an effect on them. If we approach a situation with true tolerance for another, using respect as we try to figure out what is really going on, then our children will learn to have that same patience and respect. However, if we don’t stop and think, get the facts, and definitely don’t care about respecting the other person, then that’s what our children will learn, and we’ll always have problems.
So before you say anything, before you do anything, before you make a post on social media, stop and think. Who are you affecting by this? Who is watching? What harm will you be doing if you lash out in pride? Shed your pride. Stop and think. Pray. Read your Bible. And remember, you have the power to affect a child’s life; is it going to be for good, or for evil?
I admit that I’m not perfect in this, and no one will be. We will slip up. But we can always go back to Him who made us and repent. We should also go back to those little ears and eyes, apologize to them, and teach them the right way to be. Remember: God’s way is not easy, but it’s right.
Lord, for all the times I have jumped the gun, using my mouth and my actions before seeking You, I am sorry. You have put Your little children in my care, and it is my responsibility to raise them up for You. My own pettiness, my own pride, needs to get out of the way. Lord, I can only do this with You. Help me to be the example you want me to be for Your precious ones. Help me to treat others with respect whether I agree with them or not. Help me to treat them as I would like to be treated. Heavenly Father, thank You. You alone are good and worthy to be praised. In Jesus’ name, Amen.